With this year being the centenary of World War One, there has been an extra push for the poppy appeal and remembrance of not one, but two horrific world wars that cost the lives of millions of people. For a number of years however I personally have refrained from wearing the red poppy and have chosen instead to wear a white peace poppy.
The traditional red poppy has over the years become a symbol for other wars and suffering, most notably the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and this is where my feelings towards the wearing of the poppy begin to change. World War One was supposed to be the war to end all wars, yet we have endured 100 years of war and its associated atrocities on both sides of each conflict. War is not meant to be won but to be endured, so wrote George Orwell, and is what we have effectively seen.
Much is made of the recent wars and the need for the money from the poppy appeals to help wounded soldiers. This, like other charity groups such as Help For Heroes, removes the onus on the government to do the right thing and provide for the women and men that have lost their lives in the pursuit of government lies and imperialism. They dream up the disputes and send the troops to fight and die, often with dodgy intelligence and poor equipment with the tune of “for Queen and country” ringing in their ears. There is no peace to be found at the end of a bomb.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have left us with that many injured servicemen and women that they were able, recently, to hold their own version of the Olympics, the Invictus games. And these are just the physical wounds, what of the mental impact on relentless tours of these war zones? Post Traumatic Stress is the elephant in the room no one wishes to talk about with 1 in 5 combat veterans likely to suffer on their return from the battlefield. The Falklands war lasted but days in comparison to the brutal tours faced by troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, with the cost of that war still being counted today. What future ills await the soldiers sent to fight Blairs bloody wars?
The burden of providing for families suffering at the hands of the bloody Blair years should be honoured by the governments that sent them there. Our job is to oppose them being sent in the first place and in doing so honouring and remembering those that have paid the ultimate price in our past.